Last time we talked about my favorite sports movie of all time, Rudy. Today it's on to my second favorite sports movie, Remember the Titans. It's hard to believe that the movie is 10 years old this summer, and despite it's pedigree (produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, financed by Walt Disney), this was actually a very good movie. Of course it helps that you've got Denzel Washington playing the lead role (I'll watch anything he's in), and Will Patton playing second fiddle. The movie grossed $20.9 million in the opening weekend, before closing it's US run at $115, 654, 741.
As a side note, Coach Yost's daughter (a character that I couldn't stand), grew up to become a cheerleader that saved the world (Heroes).
I have two favorite scenes from this movie. The first comes during T.C. Williams' summer conditioning. The players take a grueling early morning run through Gettysburgh before leading them to one of the battliefields and giving an emotional speech about the war that cost hundreds of thousands of young lives and is still being fought today.
My second favorite moment in the film is when Gerry Bertier tells coach Boone that he wants Ray off the team for missing his blocking assignment on purpose.
Although based on true events, like most movies (especially Disney produced movies), those events are somewaht exaggerated and twisted. Join me below the jump as we figure out which parts of the movie were real and which are fake.
In 1954 the US Supreme Court reversed Plessy vs Ferguson, which held that states could have separate facilities for blacks and whites as long as those facilities were equal. In 1959 Alexandria, Virginia desegregated it's schools, but by the late 60s the schools had become segregated again on an informal basis. In 1971 the Alexandria school district consolidated all three of it's four year high schools into two year schools, thus forcing segregation as an issue once more.
The movie shows the team coming together during camp and during the season on way to a 16-0 record and a state championship against Marshall where they were depicted as underdogs. They did go undefeated and did wint the state championship that year, but they had played Marshall earlier in the year. Just like in the movie, they won on a 4h quarter TD pass. The state chamionship was a bit anti-climatic as they won 27-0.
Fact or fiction?
- Boone was 96-4 before coming to T.C. Williams and was a 4 time state champion.
- Gerry Bertier was really an all-American LB and had been approached by several elite colleges to come play.
- Bertier was paralzyed in a car accident but it happened after the season was over. He did die 10 years later
- Bertier would go on to win a gold medal in the Wheelchair Olympics (shot put()
- The racial tension depicted at football camp is debated. Some players say there was more tension from competition from winning a starting job than there was from race. Others disagree. Boone did have the players switch buses as depicted in the movie.
- Yoast was not motivated by a Virginia Hall of Fame--it didn't exist at the time
- What's not shown is that in training camp they had talent shows, and that Boone would have players run laps if he saw more than three players of one color hanging out together. Boone and Yoast would regularly visit the player's homes to get to know their families.
The team really did bring the community together, though once again there's debate about how much racial tension there was. Jack Hicks graduated from T.C. Williams and had this to say
."There was fight tension everywhere," Hicks said. "When walking down the hallway, seeing football players was comforting because they would break up fights." "The school rallied around the team." When referring to the football players getting along, Hicks said that students thought "If they can do it, so can we."
Now this fighting may have had nothing to do with race since Boone would say that it was common for the football team to fight each other.
"On the real team, there'd be fights, but sometimes it'd be black vs. black or white vs. black, the normal thing you'd see on any football team. Because of competition for positions." Carl Turner, a running back for the 1971 Titans, told Sports Illustrated there was a lot of fighting. "Black guys fighting white guys, black guys from G.W. fighting black guys from T.C., white guys from Hammond fighting white guys from G.W."
- Was a brick thrown through Boone's window? No, it was actually a toilet.
Some interesting comparisons
Real life in 1971 Denzel Washington
Real life Movie
Rea life Movie
1971 T.C. Williams schedule
1971 Titans Schedule: T.C. 19 HERNDON 0 T.C. 25 YORKTOWN 0 T.C. 26 HAYFIELD 7 T.C. 25 JEFFERSON 0 T.C. 21 MARSHALL 16 T.C. 29 GROVETON 0 T.C. 34 MADISON 0 T.C. 34 W & L 0 T.C. 27 WAKEFIELD 0 T.C. 26 IRETON ( BI ) 8 Playoffs T.C. 28 ANNANDALE 0 T.C. 36 WOODROW WILSON 14 T.C. 27 ANDREW LEWIS 0
Some interesting video clips.
Herman Boone--The Rest of the Story
Herman Boone speaks
Brief clip of Boone talking about the Marshall game